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Inside the Drake General Store’s giant new Queen West flagship, with a café, barbershop and New Balance boutique

By Jean Grant| Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani
Inside the Drake General Store's giant new Queen West flagship, with a café, barbershop and New Balance boutique

The Drake General Store has moved from its original space next to the Drake Hotel into a massive new flagship across the street. It’s a big upgrade: the city’s destination for cute Canadiana is equal parts community hub and boutique, with double the square footage and additions like a mini Crows Nest barbershop and a chic café serving on-tap cold brew. In addition to its regular roster of in-house and local labels, the store’s co-founder and buyer Joyce Lo also brought in a number of cool international brands that shoppers won’t find anywhere else in the city, like industrial-grade totes from Tokyo label Puebco and fancy foodstuffs from Scandinavia’s Nicholas Vahé.

The café sells bags of beans from nine different roasteries across Canada, including Toronto’s Reunion Island Coffee Rosters and Propeller Coffee Co.:

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The daily menu features the “sonic brew,” a lemon-flavoured iced coffee invented by the Drake:

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Here’s Reunion Island’s on-tap cold brew:

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The commissary provides a rotating selection of one salty and sweet treat each day. Jamaican patties and lemon cream–filled doughnuts were on hand when we visited:

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The wallpaper was designed by sisterly art duo Rose and Joy Broadbent. It’s made from a kind of vinyl that can actually be removed from the wall, and is available for purchase in rolls:

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Most of the Canadiana resides in the front of the store. Also here: a retro freezer filled with tubs of red sangria–flavoured gelato from Death in Venice:

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The shop collaborated with chef-turned-chocolatier Brandon Olsen on a line of decadent truffles. They can be purchased individually or in a paint-speckled gift box ($2.25 each or $20 for a box set):

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BFFs can snag matching Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen enamel pins ($18):

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There’s a ton of fancy groceries: the left side of the pantry is dedicated to prettily packaged Nicholas Vahé goods like extra virgin olive oil, spicy chorizo pesto and ginger jams. On the right are local wares such as mayo from Neal Brothers and teas from Pluck, plus small kitchenwares (ceramic pour-over coffee makers and kombucha brewing systems):

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The Drake General Store has sold Harry Allen’s metallic piggy banks ($225–$325) since its launch in 2008:

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Co-founder Carlo Colacci designed most of the display fixtures himself, including kids’ shelving inspired by the wood bead “roller coasters” you’d find in a doctor’s office (you know the ones):

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For mini baseball fans and future feminists, this corner carries extra-adorable Jays shirts ($25) and “The Future Is Female” tees ($40), plus a sorta-creepy Pee-Wee Herman doll ($250):

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The second-floor mezzanine will host brand pop-ups. There’s also a third floor for events and artsy activations (the Broadbent sisters are setting up a video installation during the shop’s launch party tonight):

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Right now, there’s a New Balance boutique upstairs. Come fall, it’ll transform into a pop-up shop filled with L.A. designers:

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These New Balance 600Cs ($160) are one of the brand’s harder-to-find styles:

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Here’s the Crows Nest nook, which was designed by Colacci and Crows Nest founder Jon Roth. A barber will be onsite whenever the store’s open:

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Also on hand are products used in other Crows Nest locations, like Grant’s pomade and gels ($25–$30) which are used for styling clients and are also for sale:

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Beneath the selection of travel and design magazines are Tarot cards and crystals:

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The middle shelf is full of stuff from Puebco, whose functional goods—like minimalist slippers ($48), camping blankets ($58) and durable canvas tote bags ($38)—are made from mostly recycled products:

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DGS is the only place to find Frank and Oak’s Balsem collection of grooming products (other than at Frank and Oak itself, of course). Also here: Fountain’s beautifying, drinkable molecules ($35).

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Meraki is another Scandinavian brand that’s new to Toronto. Its hand soaps ($26) are free of parabens and made with all-natural essential oils:

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The store is also the only place in Toronto that sells Danish electronics brand Kreafunk. These wireless headphones ($189) are particularly pretty:

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On the the fragrance table are perfumes from L.A. brand Mondo-Mondo ($50–$130) that come in scents like “cowboy” (which smells like tobacco, leather and coffee) and “hysteria” (which smells like a mix of coconut, sunscreen and jasmine):

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For reluctant exercisers, this encouraging yoga mat promises a post-downward dog reward ($48):

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Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. 2 Abell St., 647-346-0742, drakegeneralstore.ca

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